What is IPM?
Integrated pest management (IPM) is a sound, sensible approach to dealing with pests—insects, plant diseases, weeds, and more—with methods that protect human health and the environment while saving money. IPM integrates a range of biological, organic, cultural, mechanical, and chemical options to prevent and solve pest problems. And IPM is about more than just bugs—it's also about fungi and mildew, bacteria, viruses, weeds, and wildlife, all of which can be pests if they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. And it’s about management because you can only manage pests—you can’t get rid of them forever, no matter what anyone tells you.
Pesticide use is strictly regulated in Maine schools. All Maine schools, both public and private, are required to adopt IPM policies and practices and appoint an IPM coordinator. IPM enables schools to manage pests through regular pest monitoring, effective communication, good facilities management practices, and the use of low-risk pest control. The goal of School IPM is to protect students, staff, and visitors from harmful exposure to pests, diseases, or harmful chemicals.
- A quick guide to Maine's school IPM requirements—Maine School IPM Brochure [PDF]
- School IPM Regulations
In coping with pests, the best offense is a good defense. If we had to sum up IPM in four words it would be: Think before you spray.
Step 1: Be prepared. What pests can you expect and how can you avoid them? Learn which tactics work—and under which conditions—if pests show up in school buildings, playgrounds and athletic fields. Learn about the beneficial organisms that can help you out.
Step 2: Think prevention. It’s the first step in IPM.
- Keep pests out: caulk and seal cracks and holes from cellar to attic
- Don’t feed pests: keep it clean, inside and out
- Keep plants and lawns healthy so they resist pests better
Step 3: Stay alert. Scout routinely, keeping tabs on potential pests. Know your threshold—the point when a few pests become a few too many.
Step 4: Look at your options. Every tactic costs something. Will your benefits justify the costs? Know all the options before you commit.
Step 5: Choose and use. Choose tactics and tools for the best results that protect children, staff and visitors--and Maine's valuable natural resources, too--while staying within budget. Whatever option you settle on—do it right! Plan carefully, make smart choices, and keep records!
Step 6: Think again. How did it work? How much has the situation changed? What did you learn? What is left to learn?